Tag Archives: Working Studio

Autumn 2023 at Bukkenburg

Hello and warm greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam as we approach the Autumn Equinox.

From the low-water crossing over the Breede River at Drew, about 25 km west of Swellendam – click to enlarge.

It has been a rather busy few months here, and we have much to share in this newsletter/blog post. Here’s hoping that you enjoy the contents.
All the pictures should enlarge with a click.

Saturday 18 March

A different sort of event this month as David and his brother John will be in conversation at Bokmakiri Books in Swellendam talking about John’s memoir
‘When They Came For Me : The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’.

An earlier event to launch the book here, without John, had to be postponed due to increased Covid-19 restrictions in force at the time.

John will be in South Africa during March, taking part in the Jewish Literary Festival in Cape Town on Human Rights Day, March 21, and later for engagements in Johannesburg.

We are delighted that he will finally be here and look forward to a meaningful event in Swellendam with him, and we are most grateful to Eduan Swanepoel from Bokmakiri Books for hosting the event.

The event is open to the public and we hope to see some of you there.

The event is open to the public and all are welcome.

The Venue
Please click for: Bokmakiri Books
Shop 7
Carlton Mall
Voortrek Street
Tel: 083 651 5830


John Schlapobersky, a student in South Africa, was arrested in 1969 for opposing apartheid, tortured through sleep deprivation and eventually deported. In solitary confinement he wrote secretly about the struggle for survival. This exquisitely written memoir is based on two hidden diaries – one in his Bible and the other on toilet paper. He reflects on the singing of the condemned prisoners and the poetry, songs and texts that saw him through his ordeal. The sense of hope through which he transformed his life guides his continuing work as a psychotherapist in the rehabilitation of others. Apartheid and its resistance come to life in this vital historical document, of its time and for our own.

John is a leading psychotherapist and author based in London.
In 1985 he was a Founding Trustee of  ‘Freedom from Torture’, a human rights charity. 

His publications include ‘From The Couch To The Circle: Group-Analytic Psychotherapy In Practice’ (Routledge 2016), winner of the American Group Psychotherapy Association’s Alonso Award in 2017, now in translation to other language editions.


‘An exquisitely written memoir about human endurance, survival, repair and transcendence.’ 
Justice Albie Sachs

‘An intriguing story of endurance and survival. A reminder of times, and the people who resisted them, that should never be forgotten.’ 
Gillian Slovo

‘One of the most vivid, intimate and sustained accounts yet, of the brutality that apartheid’s torturers unleashed – a remarkable book about our inhumanity and the resilience of the human spirit.’ 
Jonathan Jansen, Professor, University of Stellenbosch

‘The tale of an ordinary young man swept one day from his life into hell, testimony to the wickedness a political system let loose in its agents and, above all, an intimate account of how a man became a healer.’ 
Jonny Steinberg, Professor, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford

John has made surviving into…an act of creative protest (and) a means to bear witness for the many who did not survive.’ 
Jack Saul, Director, International Trauma Studies Program, New York.

Please click this link for – An article in The South African Jewish Report

Please click this link for – Jewish Literary Festival

Please click this link to reach the South African publisher of the book: Jonathan Ball
Please click this link for the UK publisher of the book: Berghahn Books

Norwich – 2013

Members of the extended family, UK, South Africa and USA on Zoom having received their copies of the book.

Life and work at Bukkenburg in the first months of 2023.

Such a busy time here lately!
We are pleased to report that we have at last found a solution – for our studio – to the nightmarish consequence of collapsing electricity supply that is plaguing the country.

It has involved buying a new motor for the fan and installing a Variable Speed Drive to convert our single phase backup electricity supply to the studio, to 3-phase in order to power the motor and be able to fire the kiln.

Sophisticated electrics requiring the services of a really competent electrician to make it all work together. Thankfully Swellendam is blessed with such skills!

And so thankful to have Andrew helping with the whole project.

We have fired the big kiln successfully with this new system and another glaze firing is imminent.

We are sure that it won’t be too long before things finally settle down a bit.

Family visit

Marian and Peter were here from the UK for a few days recently with their daughter Jane and her partner Jonathan. A short but wonderful visit!

Swellendam – On The Way To Everywhere

For the past few years Swellendam has been without an organised, co-ordinated tourism plan or strategy, and we appreciate what is being done by several hard working individuals in their efforts to keep the profile of the town and region visible and prominent.

The cover of the new ‘Swellendam Summer Guide – 2023’
Co-ordinated and financed by the Swellendam Municipality.
So good to have something for visitors to take away with them as they explore the town and region. We’re looking forward to the benefits from a wide distribution campaign.

Our self-catering guest cottage in the garden, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer.
Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here

Summertime lunch with Andrew and James – Christina’s Bistro at van Loveren Family Vineyards, Robertson Western Cape.

The studio and gallery are open and working daily, and visitors are always welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we will be here and available.

“Dedicate years to honing your craft, whatever that may be.
Creativity emerges through repetition. And whistling”

Hyme Rabinowitz

Spotted eagle owlets

With our very best wishes

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – March 2023

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Please visit our Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David

Chameleons are back in the garden in their numbers this year.

Winter 2021 at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

Winter in the Breede River Valley near Swellendam

Mid-winter greetings from Bukkenburg Pottery Studio in Swellendam

In this winter newsletter we will be showing some of our ongoing activities here in Swellendam including:

– New and ongoing work in the studio, completing outstanding orders and preparing fresh and exciting new pots, for display in our gallery in the coming spring.

– Upcoming valuation days with Strauss & Co, on 13 and 14 July.

– A link to the video of our slideshow with commentary on ClayChat, showing a photo record of our journey over the past 48 years.

Feedback on the launch of David’s brother John’s book ‘When They Came For Me – The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’, including links to videos of the virtual launch and recent interviews.


Cape Robin

Strauss & Co – Valuation Days in SWELLENDAM

This year’s Valuation Days will be a bit different to previous events in that Vanessa and Ian from Strauss & Co will take bookings to visit people at their homes to view the items that they would like valued.

Tuesday 13 & Wednesday 14 July

Booking is essential

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
8 Hermanus Steyn Street, Swellendam

and at the homes of people who would like to have their items valued at home.


To Book an Appointment:
Please phone Vanessa – 072 445 4717

Cape Weaver
Stoneware bowl – wheel thrown, turned and faceted.
Copper red glaze. Reduction fired to 1 320 degrees C.


A short while back we were invited by Rika Herbst to prepare a slideshow with commentary for ClayChat, covering our 48 years of working together.
A video of that slideshow is now at this link: CLICK HERE


‘When They Came For Me –
The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’

For those who missed the online launch and want to see some of it, and those who would like to see it again, here are the various YouTube links, and video links to other interviews with John about the book:

Video recording of the live streamed book launch event:

Video replay of the Daily Maverick Webinar: John Schlapobersky in conversation with Judge Dennis Davis:

Video of the interview with John Schlapobersky on ‘Die Groot Ontbyt’ on Kyknet:

Radio 702 Podcast – John Schlapobersky in conversation with Gushwell Brooks:

The book is now generally available and is published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in South Africa and Berghahn Books in the UK.

So many chameleons in the garden this winter …

Accommodation at the Studio.

The Potter’s Cottage at Bukkenburg.

Our self-catering guest cottage, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer, pictures and details are on the Accommodation page of this website.
COVID-19 protocols are in place.

Winter is a special season in our part of the world, with spectacular landscapes – mountains, farmlands, and so much more ..!

Fields of ripening Canola and winter wheat beneath the spectacular Langberg Mountains near Swellendam.
Wheel thrown stoneware jug – tenmoku double glaze with wax resist.


Our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have become essential tools in our working and social lives.

Please visit and ‘like’ our Social Media links:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David

We now have a new e-mail address: david@pottery.co.za
Please add it to your address books, the old one will be phased out over time.

Part of the salad buffet from an earlier Potter’s Lunch.

Our next ‘Potter’s Lunch and Open Studio’ is likely to take place towards the end of September – details will follow
The studio, gallery and garden are open and working daily, and visitors are welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.
COVID-19 protocols are in place.

Wishing you all the best in good health and safety – please take care.

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – Swellendam
July – 2021

WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Potter’s Lunch and Summer Open Studio

Please join us during our Summer Open Studio and Potter’s Lunch at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

Gosh, that was quick..!
The year has almost come to an end…

A slightly different program for this year – some dates to note if you’re gong to be in our part of the world during the coming summer months and over the holiday season, and are keen to stop in:

13 to 16 December – Swellendam Art Meander.
Open studios in and around Swellendam for three days.

Our studio will be open and working as part of the Swellendam Art Meander.

16 December – Potter’s Lunch
Our annual Buffet Lunch at Bukkenburg.
Lunch bookings are essential.
Tel: 082 342 5453

New work from several recent firings on show in the gallery and the garden is looking delightful this early summer.

Pin-tailed whydah in the pepper tree outside the studio.

Accommodation at the studio

With the holiday season fast approaching there is limited accommodation in our guest cottage.
Please call for availability and rates.
For further information and details about the cottage, including some pictures, please click – HERE

The studio and gallery will be open and working throughout the coming holiday season and beyond.

Visitors welcome…

Season’s Greetings and all the best for the new year..!

With best wishes
David and Felicity
December 2019

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
Tel: 082 342 5453

Winter in Swellendam

Winter in the Southern Cape – flowering canola fields and the Langeberg Mountains near Swellendam.

Winter in Swellendam –

Some new work and the Swellendam Winter School.

It’s an ongoing busy winter in Swellendam, some of the big orders have been fired and shipped, and we also have some new work in the gallery.

Smaller orders and the rest of the bigger pots still to be fired before we can get on with work for the spring and coming summer.

Here are some of new pots:

More pictures of the new pots in a future post and ongoing on our Facebook and Instagram pages.


Swellendam Winter School

The Swellendam Winter School began last month by running several 3-day and 5-day courses in various disciplines and activities for the three winter months, June to August.

We have held two well-attended 3-day weekend courses since the inception of the Winter School which we’ve called ‘Clay Explorations’ – one in June, the other in July, with a third planned for the weekend of 23 to 25 August.

For details and further info on our August ‘Clay Explorations’ Course including bookings and accommodation options please CLICK HERE

For further information about the Swellendam Winter School, the courses, bookings, accommodation options etc, please CLICK HERE

Here are a few pictures from the first two courses this winter:

We hope to broaden our offerings for next year’s Winter School with more advanced courses for experienced potters looking to enhance their skills.

We’re thinking of an advanced throwing course, and one focused on glazing and firing high temperature reduction-fired stoneware and porcelain.

Details will follow.

Our thanks and appreciation to all those involved in getting this initiative off the ground this winter – organizers, course facilitators and the participants who have come from far and wide.


Accommodation at the studio

Our recently renovated and refurbished guest cottage is available on a self-catering basis for those wanting to stay over in Swellendam on their travels.

The cottage offers luxury accommodation comprising two en-suite, air-conditioned bedrooms, kitchen, lounge with wood burning fire, full DSTV package and outdoor veranda.

Please contact us for further details, availability and rates.
For pictures of the cottage please click HERE


Please let us know if you would like to be included on our mailing list.
Our e-mail address: bukkenburg@sdm.dorea.co.za